Dumb Animals

(sometime in 2001; I forget when, exactly)

The heady aromas of fresh grass, sunlight, and sweet-scented wildflowers wing on the breeze like larks, whirling over, around and through her. She leaps, muscles working as easily as tight-coiled springs as the wind strokes her fur in time with her movements, and twists in midair, lithe as a shadow. The sunlight flows over her, warm and thick and delicious as honey; she dances beneath the clear sky, paws feeling light enough to tread the air itself. Unable to restrain the glee that wells up within her, she whirls about in circles, tail brushing against her nose as the high brush, trees, and grass melt into ribbons of green and gold. She sings her joy to this springtime universe, celebrating the unity of all things as the jays call their approval.

And nearby, from the compressed-wood cage they call a deck, their only link to this solace, two women giggle and point.

"Look at that cat, leaping around! What's it doing?"

"Who knows?" The layer of daisy-printed cotton riding the second's shoulders rustles like falling leaves as she shrugs. "It's just a dumb animal."